A State of Overwhelming Change

loss, unfortunately, seems to be a part of every process.

whether it is in life, in art, or in the weird liminal state between the two, one must give something up in order to make room for exactly what each phase, each project, and each moment needs.

this Lobsterbird is doing some serious molting.

it seems that everywhere around me major changes are taking place. of course this always seems to occur when we least expect it, when things seem to be getting really good. when we are on the right path and every door starts to open before us and then: SLAM! a giant heavy door shuts in our face. we start to doubt everything (and mostly our selves), uncertain about what to do and where to go next.

i am going through this with my Fulbright application. recently some major and necessary changes took place that altered the entire course of my proposal. when i first started working on it, doors were swinging open and it seemed that i was headed for the home stretch right at the get go. and then, radio silence. it seemed like the people i felt certain would be supportive turned out to be ghosts. in fact, the doors didn’t close, they just vanished into thin air. even more disorienting than a slam in the face is standing before something solid and suddenly not being sure that it was ever there to begin with. i can accept rejection, but not if it is never administered.

so i had to let go of some elements that i had a serious investment in, even the catalyst for the entire thing. i accepted this state of degeneration and now i am onto something far greater than i, myself, could have ever dreamt up.

so i am trying to focus on the many new doors that have appeared. it almost feels like i am starting all over. again. when the possibilities are infinite, making a choice is, indeed, an overwhelming task.

so i am waiting…and listening. trying to be where i am needed and hoping that leads to where i need to be. breathing and releasing into the uncertainty even though my body feels like it’s breaking and my mind is exploding out of its skull. trying to remember that i have all-time even when there are other imposing deadlines.

deadline is a funny word. it means if you don’t reach some indicated shape or place by a certain amount of time, you are dead. you lose. door slam. end game.

but then i have to wonder: what is death really? let’s just say that i believe in reincarnation. that means that i am born into some new being once i reach that line. well, how exciting is a deadline then???

an inevitable part of the process is letting go. so in this moment when i look at my “To Do” list and start to cry, i ask my self: which of these things can i let go of? maybe if i can deal with the loss of all things with the grace of acceptance, then whatever being i am born into will be one for whom entry to this scary world is filled with ease.

so i decided to think about this on a biological level. i found these interesting notes on microbial growth from Stephen T. Abedon’s lecture at Ohio State University:

  • Cell death
    1. In single celled microorganisms cell death is the point at which reinitiation of division is no longer possible.
  • Qualified definition:
      1. Note that the concept of cell death is actually dependent on how one attempts to reinitiate growth.
      2. Particularly, there are ways to gently revive some microbes from physiological states that would result in permanent lack of growth in other growth environments.
  • An analogous situation would be a person with an injury that is inevitably fatal in a third-world hospital, but readily treated in a first-world hospital.
  • Example: seeds:
    1. Another analogy is with a plant seed. You can try to sprout it in all kinds of environments but not all will work out in the seed’s favor. You may end up killing the seed by allowing it to attempt to germinate in the wrong environment.
    2. The more degraded is the seed prior to planting, the greater the likelihood that germination will not successfully occur unless you take great care to make sure sprouting conditions are as close to ideal as you can make them.
  •  Death phase [logarithmic decline, exponential decline]
  1. Death phase is a physiological point at which cell deaths exceed cell births.
  2. More specifically, viable count declines.
  3. “During the decline phase, many cells undergo involution—that is, they assume a variety of unusual shapes, which makes them difficult to identify.”  (p. 140, Black, J.G. (1996). Microbiology. Principles and Applications.)

interesting. and in humans:

Some 10 billion new cells may form and an equal number die in a single day. Biologists recognize two general categories of cell death, which include genetically programmed death and death resulting from external forces (necrosis).

it is a natural part of life, so why is it so hard to trust this process in an intellectual way? for me, part of the psychological fear is that i won’t reach some construct of success and happiness by the line of death. but as my collaborator Eden wisely reminded me at our work meeting that never felt like work: it’s not about the product. the important thing is that this journey led to a myriad of connections that would have never occurred if i never went on the journey to begin with. for that reason alone, nothing we do artistically can ever be a waste. the building blocks of my creative endeavors are there precisely so that they can fall away and regenerate into new ones in this constant cycle.

how true! and almost impossible to remember when we are in crisis. when it feels like everything is falling apart that idea can feel the farthest from the truth. if that is true, then the crisis and release are happening so that something new, something bigger and stronger, can be rebuilt.

i literally just ran away from my computer and out of my apartment. sitting outside, even for 20 minutes, made me remember that the world is much bigger than that little computer screen or the non-existent emails that i am expecting. who cares if a phantom door closes in my face? i will open a real one and greet the world with the joy that i have legs that will allow me to run out into it. if i have to shed my shell in search of a new home, then dammit, i’m gonna grow some wings and fly to find a better one. squeezing into that old one is painful and if there is anything such as free will, then i am going to make a choice to find something that feels right.

loss = opening for newness

death = chance for rebirth

change = evolution

molting = finding the new you

: “Leaving These Shores” collaboration with Eden

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Written by lobsterbird